Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm officially hooked on audio books

I admit that I've been a bit resistant when it comes to audio books. For quite a while, I've been having an internal argument with myself. "Jill," I said, "it's not really reading. You're cheating if you listen to a book instead of reading it. Plus, what if it's boring and you can't pay attention?" So, for the past five years, I've been commuting to work, an hour each way (sometimes longer, depending on traffic), listening to crappy radio stations full of commercials.

Then I read this post at Jen Robinson's Book Page about Audible launching AudibleKids, an audio book site for children's books. So, I thought I'd at least take a look at Audible's Website, and saw that they were running a promotion--$7.49 a month for the first three months. "Jill," I said, "you just spent 2 hours in traffic listening to crappy radio stations. Why not try it out? I mean, you don't really get the opportunity to read as much as you'd like, so why not spend your time in the car listening to books?" I convinced myself to join, and then came the dilemma of what to buy with my credit. There were so many books listed that I've always wanted to read, some classics that I've never read, some contemporary novels. I just couldn't figure out what to read, so I asked Wes, the Poetry Friday dude at The Well-Read Child. He's extremely well versed in the classics and immediately suggested Les Misérables .

I put my faith in Wes' suggestion and downloaded the unabridged edition of Les Misérables. This 1400 page book comprises nearly 57 hours of audio! That's a heck of a lot of commutes, and can I just tell you that after two weeks, I am hooked so much so that I find myself sitting in the car for an extra 10 minutes after I arrive at work just to hear what happens.

Without giving too much away, Jean Valjean is at the trial. I don't know what he's going to do. Will he confess or let an innocent man go to prison? Will Fantine get to see Cosette again? What will happen to poor Cosette if he doesn't come back?

I can't believe my stubborn self waited all these years before trying out an audio book, but I'm so glad I did. Now, I only have to decide which book I'll download next month. I definitely want to stick with the classics, so what will it be? War and Peace? Anna Karenina? Any suggestions?


  1. I've discovered that I love audiobooks in the past year... my only problem is that my commute is too short to listen to them on a regular basis. I tend to save them for longer trips. I've actually considered moving farther away from my job so that I could listen to more audiobooks on the commute! :D I'm glad you're liking them! I have to say that I think the narrator can sometimes affect my opinion of the book more than the text, so if you're liking the narrator of Les Mis, I'd suggest looking for another one read by that person!

  2. I love audiobooks too! Since I'm an illustrator, I can listen while I render my artwork (all the major decisions have been made by then I just let my hand do its thing). My all time fave so far is Terry Pratchett's "Wee Free Men" read by Stephen Briggs. Just beware drinking coffee while listening - it's laugh out loud funny!

  3. Abby,
    Thanks for the tip. I'll definitely take a look at what other books this narrator has done. And...ummmm...if I had to choose between audiobooks and a shorter commute, I think I'd choose the shorter commute. But give me a couple more months with audiobooks, and I may take back that statement!

  4. E,
    That's a great idea--listening to audiobooks while you complete tasks that don't require heavy-duty brainpower. Thanks for the recommendation and the warning!

  5. Of course I love Jim Dale, narrator of Harry Potter. He is currently narrating one classic book a year. I know he has The Christmas Carol and Peter Pan, not sure beyond that. It's safe to go with anything he does.

  6. Natasha,
    I haven't heard Jim Dale narrate, but I'll be sure to check him out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. Glad the audiobook thing is working out for you, Jill. I've found that audiobooks help to get me exercising (still not enough, but they help). I hope you continue to enjoy them.

  8. Thanks Jen...seems like listening to audio books and exercising is a way to fit in "reading" and exercising into a busy schedule. Now, I don't have any excuse...sigh.